I Thessalonians 5: 18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 95:2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
This past Sunday night, our church family spent a wonderful evening sharing testimonies of how God has been faithful through this pandemic. We recognized that the pandemic was not over, but several members shared experiences of how truly faithful our Father has been through this storm and the many storms of life that come our way. Then last night, on my drive home from work, I listened to a sermon about gratitude, and I began thinking about how grateful I am that I have Jesus, and how truly grateful I am that I have experienced His grace, His mercy, His love, and His faithfulness.
When this pandemic began, I was worried. I panicked. I anxiously gathered research on a virus that hadn’t yet been researched. I soon learned that this crazy virus didn’t read any of the textbooks, and it didn’t seem to follow the pattern of our typical viruses. It scared me. I, personally, was not afraid of catching the virus. I was afraid of bringing it home to my family. I worked diligently to protect myself with all of the medical armor that we call PPE, washed my hands fervently, and practiced safely. I continue these practices more than six months later. Over these past few months, I have learned a few things about gratitude, and I have definitely grown closer in my walk with the Lord. I learned to pray Psalm 91, and I learned to dwell in the shelter of the Most High. (Take some time to read and pray this Psalm. You can thank me later. LOL)
First of all, during this pandemic I have learned to look up. That may sound silly, but it’s the truth. When my body and soul seemed to be washing away in a sea of anxiety, I learned to look to Christ. I prayed more (if that is possible), I studied the Word more, and I began writing a daily devotional to encourage myself, and hoped that my ramblings would encourage others as well. I drew strength from this practice. The fear, anxieties, and worry regarding the unknown slowly turned into calm, peace, and less worrying about the unknown as I was gradually reassured by my heavenly Father that I didn’t need to know everything because He already had everything under control. I’ve always been one who thought I needed to be in total control of every situation. I have never sought the use of drugs or alcohol because I have always wanted to be in full control of myself, and I have a bad habit of wanting to control all the situations that arise in my life. When I look up, I recognize that I don’t have to be in control, and actually, I’m not ever truly in control. God alone is in control. Not me. Try as I may, I can’t control things. I’ve learned to look up, let go, and let God do His thing. He does a much better job than I do at any rate.
Another thing this pandemic has taught me is to look around. How has this pandemic changed things around me? Well, I’ll start with a few changes that I don’t really care for. The economy is struggling. People have lost jobs. Businesses are closing. Our elderly in the nursing homes are isolated and alone. People are depressed. Those things are bad. There is no doubt about it. But I ask myself, have I seen anything good come from this pandemic? As I look around me, I do in fact see positive changes. I see the goodness of God. Families have started being families again. Families are learning to spend time together, gather around the table, play games, watch movies, cook meals together, and enjoy outdoor activities together. Pre-pandemic, everyone was busy going in their own direction, and everyone was running ninety to nothing to accomplish everything on their plate for the day. During the pandemic, because of closures and distancing, families are learning to be the family unit that God intended. I look around and see that God has blessed me so much through this storm. My family and I have remained healthy. I have retained my job. We have not done without. We may be more isolated than before, but we’ve reignited the family unit, and we’ve learned to let God lead. I’ve felt God ever present all around me throughout this difficult time.
Lastly, the pandemic has taught me to look within. How have I changed on the inside? Oh my, I’ve grown so much spiritually over the past six months. As I mentioned earlier, I began writing these daily devotionals to encourage myself and others through this storm. In doing so, I have challenged myself to really dig into the amazing Word of God on a daily basis. I start off each day praising and praying to God, and I finish my morning prayers by asking God to give me a word, a word to share. Guess what, Peeps? I figured that I would run out of things to write about after a month or two, but here I sit…still sharing words that I feel God is leading me to share. Oh, I don’t profess to be a prophet of any kind, but rather I have changed my habit of just talking to God to one of asking to hear from Him. I don’t hear the audible voice of God. A word will pop in my head, and from that word an idea flows, and from that idea, scripture research begins, and slowly but surely words appear on a computer screen. I read over the words, and I think, “Wow, God! That’s something I really needed to teach myself today!” He has been molding me, growing me, teaching me, and training me through this pandemic. I can’t start the day any longer without His Word. It truly is my sword that I use throughout each and every day as I battle the challenges that come my way.
We don’t know why we are going through this storm, but we know the One who can speak and calm the winds and the waters with merely the sound of His voice. When we look up, look around, and look within, we can’t help but see the glory of God everywhere. Maybe, just maybe, He is allowing this storm to occur to bring us back to Him. Maybe we needed this storm to learn to be totally dependent on the Father. Maybe we needed this storm to remember how to be a family. Maybe we needed this storm to remind us to get into God’s Word. All bad things that happen to us aren’t necessarily bad things. There is usually something good to be found in each circumstance, and there is always, always something to be grateful for. Today, I challenge you to develop an attitude of gratitude. When things seem to be falling apart, just remember the One who is holding everything together. God’s got this. God’s got you! Be grateful today!